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Real Madrid's Kaka Conundrum

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This look sums up his time at the Bernabeu for him and the fans.
This look sums up his time at the Bernabeu for him and the fans.

Definition of CONUNDRUM 1 : a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun 2 a : a question or problem having only a conjectural answer b : an intricate and difficult problem

Recently it's been brought to my attention that I 'hate' Kaka, or at the least am not supportive enough towards him. I've been a sports fan for many a year, and while I support my team(s) -- I don't do so blindly. I've been at this sports blogging thing long enough to know better than to just accept what goes on and not question it. It's in our nature to question everything. I support Real Madrid and its players, but sometimes you've got to step back and ask yourself a question or two about the team itself.

While we trust Jose Mourinho's calls as far as tactics and coaching go, it doesn't mean we can't question certain moves. The most recent example is our Copa del Rey come back versus Malaga. Things didn't change until he used all three of his subs at the half. The change seemed to light a fire under the boys and they were able to pull off the win -- barely I might add.

And don't get me started on the fact that we gave up two precious away goals.

We all know part of the reason Real Madrid had such a bad first half was because Kaka failed to create offense in the midfield. And that wasn't his only problem: what service he was able to create wasn't up to Kaka standards (standards he has only shown flashes of). The first half of the match pretty much summed up his time in a Real Madrid kit.

Coach Jose Mourinho has recently gone on record saying that he's counting on Kaka for the rest of the season, which should put some of the rumors of the Brazilian's departure to bed. However, Mourinho is saying what he needs to say: he's not going to openly admit anything in regards to a player leaving via transfer -- it's not how you do business. Don't take that as me saying that I think Mourinho is covering something up, because he's probably not.

Kaka has not lived up to the expectations that the fan base had when he came over from AC Milan in 2009. I would love it if he had been able to (we all would). When he was signed, he had just won the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Footballer Of The Year Award. He was a creative attacking midfielder who liked to spread the ball around. In six seasons at the San Siro he racked up 30 assists and he also picked up 70 goals in that same time frame. Splendid right? You bet, and in 2009 we were going to see that in action at the Bernabeu.

That hasn't happened, as h ha's been hampered by injuries to the extent that I highly doubt he'll ever be the player he was. In three years at the Bernabeu he has scored a grand total of 18 goals in 51 appearances. If you divide the two (goals/appearance), you don't get a whole lot of goals per appearance. This season across all competitions he has scored 4 goals and added 7 assists. But what's worse, and while the numbers may look 'OK' , it doesn't tell the whole story.

His form has been erratic at best and, well, we won't talk about the worst, though it was greatly on display on Tuesday during the first leg of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey tie with Málaga. It wasn't until the second half, when Mesut Ozil was inserted into the midfield and Mourinho went to a two striker system, that Real Madrid actually began to play real football. And you could argue also that Ozil is having a bad run of form, but even his bad form is better than Kaka's at this stage of the season.

Even in somewhat bad form, Ozil is a better creator in the midfield than Kaka, who, for better or for worse, looks absolutely lost. If our lone striker--or even Cristiano Ronaldo--isn't getting service, then the team isn't scoring goals and when that happens a loss isn't all that far away. Unless, of course, Mou absolutely airs you out in the dressing room at half time.

This is why I titled this piece Real Madrid's Kaka Conundrum. So, where do we go from here? Is it better that we cut bait and run? Or keep him on the bench as a super sub--who may or may not be in form on any given day? It's a lot like Russian Roulette and that's something I'd rather not risk while we're in the hunt for three trophies. While it's nice to have a world class player on the bench, you can argue that he hasn't been a world class player since his first season as a merengue.

With the injury to Angel Di Maria, Kaka might actually be needed, but to what extent? Only Mou knows the answer. So what do you do after that? Do you let Kaka leave before the end of the winter transfer window? Hold on to him until the end of the season and let him go somewhere in the summer? We need to use our heads on this one, not our hearts. I have my favorite player(s) no doubt, but I'm not blind in my fandom.

Should I be completely upset because Pipita isn't getting the starts he should? No, I shouldn't be. I feel he's better in some areas than Karim Benzema (Higuain is ranked third in the league in goals behind Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) but Benzema isn't that far off the pace either. Mou plays the hot hand (or foot as the case may be) and that's why we're seeing the rotation at the loan striker spot. Then again, we only have two strikers. Could we use a third? Of course we could. But that's an argument for a later date.

To sum up: Kaka's time as a vikingo has been filled with injuries and rife with speculation. Sometimes it does a player good to get a change of scenery and maybe that's what he needs to regain his form. Either way, something needs to be done sooner rather than later.